In Part 1, I asked the question, Are you a person of significance? There’s a difference between being successful and being significant. In particular, coming to Jesus, he says If anyone wants to be first he must make himself last of all and be the servant of all. That’s quite a strange statement!
Coming to faith in Jesus requires a paradigm shift, a radical change within our hearts that profoundly impacts the way we act, speak and relate. Let us take ambition for an example. It is human nature to want to get ahead in life, to be first, to be acclaimed, to be successful and to have status.
The Bible tells of a day when Jesus is on a teaching mission around his home territory of Galilee and Capernaum. And we find the disciples indulging in a very human activity. They are arguing about which of them is the greatest. Jesus overhears them and reflects back to them, “If anyone wants to be first, he must make himself last of all and servant of all.” (Mark 9:35).
Jesus is counter-cultural—he is working within a different paradigm. You see when it comes to ambition there is a difference between success and significance.
In worldly terms ambition translates into being successful: it is often about having a big income, being beautiful, achieving great things in sport, acquiring status. Being admired and looked up to by others.
But these things never seem to carry much weight with Jesus. He was marching to a different drum beat so to speak. He was focused not so much on success as on being significant. Jesus’ values require a different way of thinking and one which has an eye on eternity. And so he encourages his disciples to be ambitious but not for success—rather for significance.
How We Find Greatness
In other words you must strive not to be successful over people’s lives, but rather significant in their lives.
In Jesus’ thinking it is humility that exalts us and enables us to live the kind of significant life that will make the world a better place,
Jesus teaches his disciples that if we seek true greatness in his kingdom, then we must find that greatness:
- not by being first—but by being last
- not by trying to be successful—but rather by being significant
- not by seeking to be masters—but by being servants of all.
Think about it—the men and women we remember and admire down the generations: Florence Nightingale, Albert Schweitzer, Mother Theresa, Francis of Assisi. They are those who have made a real serving contribution to society. Jesus encourages us to be ambitious—but for opportunities that will enable us to serve others and this makes good common sense..
Jesus spoke of the importance of a child, and seemed to be saying, If anyone welcomes the poor, ordinary people, the people who have no influence and no wealth and no power, the people who need things done for them, he is welcoming me. He is welcoming God.
Our Time, Talents and Money
Who would we need to serve at this time? Who might we need to put ourselves out for—perhaps even make big sacrifices for—that we might in so doing welcome Jesus, welcome God into our lives, into our community, into our midst?
Many of our young people are victims of substance abuse, many are lost, many do not know the Gospel story. Many of our elderly are unloved, lonely and forgotten. That’s just a few examples.
To be significant requires serving others with:
- our time
- our talents
- our money.
Many of us are to some extent time-poor but perhaps we might ask ourselves, Where are we spending our time and what are we doing with it and who are we serving?
We all have talents. What are we doing to discover those talents that they may be used for the benefit of others?
We all have some money and—while it is imperative that we are careful and wise in the use of our money and that it is used to provide for our families—we surely have from time to time something to share with others.
Jesus has gifted us with another perspective, another way of looking at life and people. Each person is valuable to God and we should understand that other people are always worth serving:
- whether we like them or no
- whether they are important or not
- whether we like it or not.
My life shall touch a dozen lives before this day is done, leave countless marks for good or ill ere sets the evening sun. This is the wish I always wish, the prayer I always pray; Lord may my life help other lives it touches by the way.